Raintree County BANNED?

Attempts to ban Raintree County

A Few Historical Notes Posted Banned Books Week '09


1948: Seized in Philadelphia

~ Raintree County dust jacket from the Book-of-the-Month Club edition, 1948 ~

     "The Book-of-the-Month Club shied away from my father's racy book-jacket design. Instead of a naked woman embedded in the landscape, we find Adam and Eve in full Victorian dress doing a minuet as Eve prepares to receive an apple from an accommodating snake."

--Shade of the Raintree, Larry Lockridge, p. 404

     "[In 1948] Raintree County marched on without its author, leading most bestseller lists through April and May of 1948 before falling away. [Raintree County's] bizarre postpublication history continued with its nationally publicized seizure and empoundment, beginning on March 20, by the Philadelphia vice squad, led by one Craig Ellis. Five booksellers were arrested. The vice squad was following the lead of Fordham's Reverend Barrett. Lockridge's suicide seemed to many a manifestation of God's taste in literature, vindicating those who denounced the novel as obscene and blasphemous.
     Delegations of priests and ministers lined up in Federal District Court in eastern Pennsylvania to denounce the novel as "lewd, obscene, licentious, filthy and indecent." Houghton Mifflin fought the seizure handily, arguing that priestly celibates lack the credentials to judge in matters of sex.
     Only two weeks before Houghton Mifflin prevailed in court, on October 31, 1950, vice-squad chief Craig Ellis put a bullet through his brain, leaving a suicide note. "I have failed as a leader. My wife did not know of my laxity. I suppose my pain has made me mad. I pray God will help any I may have caused regret."

From Shade of the Raintree, pp. 455-6

Celebrating the Freedom to Read

     Raintree County: Attacked in NY City (1953) as "1066 pages of rank obscenity, blasphemy & sacrilege ... inimical to faith & morals (&) within the prohibition of the Catholic Index".

From: Banned Books Week, 1986
(Celebrating the Freedom to Read)
"A resource Book" by Robert P. Doyle
American Lib. Ass., Chicago, 1986
Source: 8,Vol.IV, P. 709.


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Posted Oct. 2009